Hong Kong Visas Made Easy

20

Oct 2018

Can I Remain in Hong Kong as a Visitor After My Employment Visa Expires?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

Simple question this one with an easy answer and indicative of the fact that, even though quite a straight forward issue, the information is not otherwise readily available anywhere else on the web.

QUESTION

I am a Canadian citizen, working in Hong Kong holding an employment visa for 7 weeks. I want to stay after my job is finished (work visa will expire at the same time) to see Hong Kong as a visitor, then travel to Macau and Thailand.

Do I need to have my visa changed from employment to visitor?

Thank you so much for your help.

ANSWER

At the time that your employment visa limit of stay is due to expire, if you don’t have the continuing rationale for remaining in Hong Kong as an employee because your contract has come to an end, in any event, it was just a short-term employment visa nonetheless.

Then for you to remain in Hong Kong as a visitor will not be problematic at all. But there will be a process that you need to go through in order to achieve this outcome. There are two ways to go about doing it. The first is to go down to the Immigration Department to the visitor extension section, wait probably three-quarters of a day and get yourself up to a maximum of possibly two-week visitor visa extension upon request of an immigration officer going through a visa extension process and they will readily grant you no doubt, a two-week extension to your present limit of stay converting you from an employment visa over to a visitor at that time.

So that should not be problematic at all but the real problem there, of course, is that it’s going to take a long time, it gets very busy and the visitor visa guys at the Immigration Department are under a lot of pressure. And you know they tend to be somewhat brusque in the way that they process such applicants, but you will get the extension so don’t worry about that.

Alternatively, and ideally what I would suggest that you do is on the final date of your current limit of stay as an employment visa holder, take in a sense the 11 o’clock evening ferry over to Macau. Arrive in Macao and come back from Macao into Hong Kong on the very next ferry which will bring you into Hong Kong on the next day – the day after your current limit of stay as an employment visa holder expires. And at the point of arrival, the immigration officer will only be able to grant you a visitor visa because that’s the only status that that will be open to you given that your employment visa will have expired the day before.

And as a Canadian national you will get a 90-day period of stay. And that’s the same for most Western nationalities such as most Europeans and also Americans for that matter. And at that point, you’ll be then granted the time that you need in Hong Kong to complete your final activities here as a visitor.

Okay, I hope this helps.

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18

Oct 2018

What Pathways to an Employment Visa Exist For a Fresh, Foreign University Graduate Arriving in Hong Kong Seeking Career Opportunities Here?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Special Programmes, Your Question Answered / No responses

Whilst the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates afford a clean pathway to working permission for foreign nationals freshly graduating from Hong Kong universities, the situation is very different if your degree is from overseas and you’re seeking to work in the HKSAR straight after university.

QUESTION

Hi Stephen,

I would like to ask, I’m a fresh grad student in interior design from Australia. I am seeking an opportunity in Hong Kong.

I had a few companies that are willing to hire me here in Hong Kong, but the problem is that the employment visa / working permit is an issue for them.

I would like to tap your expertise in this situation.

What other alternatives exist to manage this immigration issue?

ANSWER

Naturally in Hong Kong like any other jurisdiction that cares for its younger population and wants to ford the best possible opportunities for their graduates as they can, it is the position of the Immigration Department to not approve applications for employment visas from completely fresh graduates of foreign universities that come to Hong Kong looking for opportunities here.

And it’s hardly surprising because you know the vast majority of countries as I said would also implement the same policy to protect jobs for their new graduates too. So if you do have a very strong commitment to pursuing a career opportunity in Hong Kong you need to in a sense stop anticipating that there’s a simple solution available to you and start considering that you’re going to have to start making an investment in relation to Hong Kong in a way that you might not have anticipated until now. So just blue-skying this and thinking about the way to bring about a possible positive outcome for you.

One opportunity that might exist is if you find yourself a job offer from a company in Hong Kong that has an office in Australia where perhaps you could spend six months in Hong Kong on a training visa with the expectation that at the end of those six months you would then be sent back to the Australian arm of the group of companies where you would spend two years in Australia working on the ground for the same organization and then at some stage after you have qualified as a professional for the purposes of the general employment policy under Hong Kong immigration rules, then be transferred back to Hong Kong to work for the Hong Kong arm of that business as a full-time employee.

So in those circumstances, you would qualify as a professional because you’d be a graduate and you would have at least two years relevant working experience in your field assuming of course that you have undertaken duties of a supervisory and managerial nature during all of that time. So that’s one way to think about it.

Another way to think about it is well, why not further your education in Hong Kong and go on to get a master’s degree – spend one year studying in Hong Kong. You won’t be allowed to work during that time. But spend one year studying and get yourself an advanced degree. And then immediately take advantage of the immigration arrangements for non-local graduates, which will effectively see you move straight into lawful employability without the need to have a particular job offer, at the point of converting your student visa into the one year fresh non-local graduate arrangements under the immigration arrangement for non-local graduates.

So that’s another key way that you could get in. If you come from a background of commerce and you can muster up the requisite finance and you’ve got a half-decent business plan and the sufficient business acumen to think about going into business for yourself. Quite a risky strategy gave that you freshly out of university but if you’ve got all those resources collected around you, you might think about starting a business in Hong Kong and securing the consent of the Immigration Department to join in that business.

There you’d have to show that you’re in a position to make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong but I’m not going to spend too much time talking about that because I’ve dealt with it [00:03:51inaudible] elsewhere on this blog. So that’s the business investment visa and then finally if you come from a particularly well-heeled family and you can show that you’ve owned assets in your own name for at least two years to the tune of a minimum of 10 million Hong Kong dollars you could make an application under the capital investment entrance scheme which would take six to eight months to finalize but at the end of that process, you would find yourself being lawfully employable in Hong Kong without any further questions asked. So that would represent  an expensive albeit quite realistic chance of securing the outcome that you’re what you’re looking for so that you can be in Hong Kong to carry on your career here.

So those are the options in a nutshell from 39,000 feet and I hope you found this useful.

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15

Oct 2018

How Do Foreign National Children Resident in Hong Kong for 7 Years Go On to Acquire Permanent Residency Here?

Posted by / in Family Visas, Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / No responses

The test for the right of abode for foreign national children resident in Hong Kong for 7 years is the same as for adults but the manifestation of that PR takes a slightly different form…

QUESTION

I’ve heard that our children can independently hold permanent residency once they turn 7.  Is this correct and if so, how do we go about applying for it?

Thanks!

ANSWER

Once a child that was not born in Hong Kong has lived here continuously prepared and not less than seven years and that child goes on to make an application to have his eligibility for permanent identity card verified and that exercise involves exactly the same approvability test as is applied to adult counterparts that are also seeking to go ahead and secure the right of abode in Hong Kong.

So using the context of children that are naturally resident in Hong Kong with their parents, the evidence that’s submitted in support of that application is that they are together with their parents and that they are in school. And the Immigration Department take proof of schooling typically as being definitive evidence that they have been a continuously ordinarily residents in Hong Kong.

And of course they do check to see their whereabouts during that time, so insofar as the test goes, it is essentially the same as it is for adults when it comes to children. But the manifestation of the right of abode is reflected not in the issue of a permanent identity card. Because the child, if it’s under 11 years of age, can’t secure a permanent ID, can’t secure any kind of identity card.

Effectively once they get to 11 they get a juvenile ID card and that juvenile ID card states that the holder has the right of abode but prior to that the actuality of having had your very verification for eligibility for the right of abode is reflected in a sticker that’s placed in the back of the passport of the child and then the child then presents that at the boundaries and at the airport when the child is travelling and of course, the Immigration Department immediately admits the child on the strength of the child having the right of abode.

So that’s it it’s – an endorsement to the passport first until the issue of the first ID card where upon the permanent identity card is formally issued. The only wrinkle to that is that at the point of issuing the ID card at the age of 11, there will be a further examination to ensure that the child has remained continuously and ordinarily in Hong Kong.

Throughout the proceeding, say in this case three or four years, if the child had his eligibility verified at the age of seven and if the child has not been continuously and ordinarily resident in Hong Kong throughout all at that time and/or has been absent I should say from Hong Kong for more than three years at a stretch then the ID card that will be issued will be a right to land ID card and will not be a permanent identity card.

So eligibility can be verified through the placements of the sticker in the passport, but you still need to maintain your connections to Hong Kong under the basic law. Which means that a child must have been in Hong Kong on at least one occasion during the interim period over a course of three years in order to maintain eligibility for the right of abode and the issue of the permanent identity card accordingly.

Otherwise, as I’ve stated the child will be issued with an ID card that grants him the right to land.

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12

Oct 2018

I Would Like to Apply for a Job Seekers Visa For Hong Kong – How Do I Go About Doing It?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

Hong Kong immigration is rife with visa gossip and rumours so I am pleased this question has been raised as it allows me to slay an old dragon once and for all!

QUESTION

Hi Stephen,

Thanks ever so much for your amazing website. I have never seen anything like this before – and I can’t believe it’s all free!

I have been looking around for details about the Job Seekers Visa For Hong Kong but can’t find anything.

Does this visa actually exist?

I have been told by a couple of people that I can come and live here for 3 months no questions asked as I look for a job, then swap that job seekers visa over to a work visa.

How do I go about doing this?

Thank you again!

ANSWER

In Hong Kong there is no such animal as a job seekers visa, that’s the bottom line!

This old chestnut has been kicking around for quite some time now and I’m glad that this question has been raised in the way that it has because it allows me to deal with it.

I think there’s a certain amount of confusion between the immigration status that you get as a visitor at the border for those nationals that are entitled to a 90-day period of stay when they arrive.

And potentially also under the working holiday visa, which allows you to work for 90 days for any single employer during the 12-month period that you hold such a working holiday visa.

So in a sense, you might be confusing the visitor visa and the working holiday visa, which both avail the ability to look for work. Given that seeking a job in Hong Kong as a visitor and indeed as a working holiday visa holder is permitted activity.

Whilst if you’re a visitor visa holder looking for a job, it isn’t permitted activity to take up any employment offer that results from you looking for that work.

But to suggest that there is a discrete immigration status called a job seekers visa is erroneous. And it could possibly be a confusion from some other jurisdiction that that perhaps avails that type of permission to be in Hong Kong to look for work.

So, there is no such thing as a job seekers visa. Come as a visitor – it is permitted activities to look for work as a visitor. If you have a working holiday visa, in any event, you can look for work. And indeed you can take up employment for up to three months with a single employer during the currency of that visa.

But job seekers visa itself, no, doesn’t exist.

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09

Oct 2018

How Can I Prove ‘7 Years Residency’ for My Hong Kong Right of Abode Application if I Do Not Have Any Old Tenancy Agreement Copies?

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / No responses

How to skin the cat of the ‘missing tenancy agreement’ is an oft-faced challenge in the game of the Hong Kong Right of Abode Application after 7 years continuous ordinary residence by a foreign national intending permanent resident.

QUESTION

What happens if I am unable to provide copies of my tenancy agreements in support of my Hong Kong permanent residency application?  

I never thought I would still be here for 7 years so I every 2 years I get rid of old documents ie, bank statements, tenancy agreements, utilities etc. 

Also for years 3-7 I was living with my ex partner so the tenancy agreement was in her name or her employer’s name.

What can I do?  Will utility bills be enough? 

Thanks.

ANSWER

Yes, I can completely understand how in your circumstances you have gone through a regular exercise of throwing out old not needed documents anymore.

And so seven years down the road you find yourself needing to be able to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that you’ve been continuously and ordinarily resident here for those seven years. And that you can’t lay your hands on documents to begin to substantiate the actuality of your formal residence.

Well look at it from this perspective: if you can’t come up with tenancy agreement documents then the Immigration Department will rely on other aspects of your file to allow themselves to be satisfied that you’ve been resident in Hong Kong, notwithstanding the fact that you can’t in your instance come up with formal tenancy agreements because of the passing of your life and how it was lived. They know from your movements into in and out of Hong Kong how much time that you’ve spent here.

And if it’s very clear and all the facts that A) you have been continuously working for your employers in Hong Kong with resident visa permission and employment visa permissions; B) you’ve paid your taxes throughout those seven years and that fact has been evidenced through the submission of the copies of your tax returns for the requisite period.

And then any absences from Hong Kong in that time have been of a merely temporary nature and typically not long in time, then it’s easy for the Immigration Department to conclude that unless you were sleeping in a tent in Tsim Sha Tsui, effectively you’ve been laying your head somewhere in Hong Kong safe and secure throughout all at this time.

So the Immigration Department won’t refuse your application because you can’t come up with the tenancy agreements but because it is an integral element of the application, my advice to you would be to draw a schedule and state effectively what your addresses were during the requisite seven years. And the time that you were in those premises accordingly with a short note against each entry, explaining why the tenancy agreement isn’t available.

So if you put that schedule together and perhaps you may be able to lay your hands on some other documents: utility bills, or telephone bills, or whatever that can speak quite clearly to the fact or testify clearly to the fact that you were constant at those addresses at the relevant points in time just to corroborate the explanation on your schedule, then you’ll find that the Immigration Department will usually respond positively to that and they’ll help you solve your tenancy agreement absence conundrum.

Okay, I hope you found this useful. Thanks. Bye.

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06

Oct 2018

Will My Hong Kong Employment Visa be Compromised If I Leave My Job Due to Intolerable Working Conditions?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

Should you be worried that your employment visa status in Hong Kong might be undermined if you choose to leave the employ of an unsavoury employer?

QUESTION

Hello, my current employer and visa sponsor is a small business, and my working conditions are intolerable – twice the amount of hours than stated on the contract, poor pay, fines for sick days off and unexplained additional fines deducted from my salary without notice nor explanation, plus late payment of salary.

I have been with them for seven months and paid to get here myself.

They have also asked me to lie to the inland revenue to say my contract started two months after it did – because it took me two months to get a free day to go to Macau and activate my visa.

It’s all very shabby.

Three other similar staff have ‘left in the night’ because there is a HK$25,000 fee to leave the contract (plus work two months unpaid, and pay another undisclosed fee for leaving without serving two months notice).

I have another company who will sponsor me and I would like to know if I can release my sponsorship with my present employer myself, or do they have the power to refuse the release and transfer of my visa to another company?

Can they stop me working anywhere else if I walk?

I can not continue working in these conditions, but I do not want to leave Hong Kong and I have other employers waiting.

Am I trapped please?

Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give.

ANSWER

Not being an employment lawyer I can’t offer any comment as to your remedies for the seemingly intolerable situation you find yourself in.

As regards your employment contract with your current employer I suggest that you contact the Labor Department for some provisional information on how to deal with the problems that you’re facing in that employment.

Or indeed obviously contact an employment lawyer. However, in so far as immigration goes you’re on the pretty much safe ground in so far as if you determine for one reason or another that you wish to cease working for your current employer and you wish to make an application to take up employment with a new employer, then that’s all perfectly doable.

The Immigration Department doesn’t hold you to any particular employer and the employment visa is personable to you. It doesn’t accrue to the employer so your current employer has no means of in a sense holding a gun to your head as regards your ability to stay in Hong Kong due to the fact that you no longer want to work in those intolerable working conditions.

As part and parcel of any employment visa change of sponsorship application for that’s what it would be, you’d have to submit a copy of your resignation letter or possibly a document in writing from your current employer indicating when your exact final date of employment while so that the Immigration Department can demarcate your old employment through to your new employment and adjust the sponsorship of your visa accordingly.

As long as you’re moving from one employment type to a similar employment type that is it’s like for like employment and that the minimum salary and compensation levels are being met under the general employment policy – give or take about sixteen thousand Hong Kong dollars a month. And of course, your new employer, proposed new employer is deemed by the Immigration Department to be a suitable and credible sponsor.

Then in those circumstances, your immigration status should be readily adjustable without too much of a do.

So, no you and you’re not locked into this particular employer and if you want to leave, do so. Address whatever problems you’ve got from the contract perspective through the use of the proper channels. But in so far as immigration goes you’ll be more than capable of making that adjustment if for immigration sponsorship without too many problems at all.

Okay, good luck with it all and I hope you found this useful.

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03

Oct 2018

Am I Allowed to Work Full Time Even Though I Only Have a One Year Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa?

Posted by / in Special Programmes, Your Question Answered / No responses

I just love the easy Hong Kong immigration questions – gives me a break from thinking too hard!

QUESTION

Hi there!

I’m Australian and I have an approved Working Holiday Visa, but am wondering if I can work full-time (albeit for a max of 3 months per employer), or whether only part-time hours are allowed?

Also I have received an approval for the visa from the Immigration Department and have to leave Hong Kong for it to be validated…can I just leave for a day?

Is the purpose just for my passport to be stamped at Immigration on re-entry to Hong Kong Airport?

Many thanks for your help! 

ANSWER

The working holiday visa for Hong Kong is really quite a useful animal for relatively young people that want to spend some time in Hong Kong on an extended basis. Primarily to experience Hong Kong on a holiday and supplementing the costs of spending that time in Hong Kong through taking up employment with no more than four individual employers with a maximum time per employer of three months during that 12-month limit of stay as a working holiday visa holder and the ability to work as many hours as you wish to work either on a full-time or a part-time basis for each of those maximum number for employers.

So yeah you’re not limited to the number of hours you can work effectively the hours that you wish. And as regards you presently being in Hong Kong as a visitor, after your working holiday a visa approval has been notified to you, yes you indeed collect the visa label from Immigration Department. And you need to exit – Macao or China is fine, or you can get an airplane if you wish, relinquishing your visitor visa status as you exit. And as you arrived in Macao or China or elsewhere place the working holiday visa label on a clean page in your passport and then turn around and come back into Hong Kong, activating your working holiday visa as you re-enter and at that point you’ll have a 12-month limit of stay under that immigration status from the date of you re-entering and activating your label.

So yes, you don’t have to spend in a number of days or indeed any time of note outside of Hong Kong that you simply need to make the exit to relinquish your current visitor visa status. And then make the reentry activating your working holiday visa upon your return.

Okay, easy question, appreciate you asking it. I hope you find it useful.

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